Electrical problem blamed for apartment fire

Alta Vista Apartments have had two other fires in recent years

SAN ANTONIO - Fire investigators believe an electrical problem is what started a fire that temporarily displaced dozens of people who live in a South side apartment complex.

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The fire broke out around 10 p.m. Monday in one building of at the Alta Vista apartments.

Once firefighters arrived in the 2800 block of W. Hutchins Place, they called for a second alarm.

Fire Captain Scott Pawelek said the additional personnel were called in due to the need to rotate firefighters to prevent them from having any problems with the hot weather.

Pawelek said the fire started in one unit, but sent flames and smoke into at least five others.

“One of the tenants was watching TV. She heard a pop come from an electrical outlet and then she saw smoke," he said.

Dozens of other apartments were evacuated as a precaution. They had to spend the night away from home, though, after the electricity was shut off, Pawelek said.

Only about six of the units are still uninhabitable, he said.

This fire is the third one to break out at the complex in as many years.

Records show firefighters were called to put out a fire that damaged fire apartments there in June of last year.

In November 2010, fire and smoke damaged two other units.

Pawelek said the complex will be getting at least one more visit from the fire department soon. Fire Prevention, he said, will be looking into whether there may be a deeper problem at play there.

“When you have multiple fires, you have (fire prevention) come out and just make sure everything is safe," Pawelek said.

It’s a step toward preventing anymore nights like the one residents had Monday.

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